Do You Have To Be An Experienced Photographer To Shoot The Fuji X-T1?


Don’t let the X-T1’s looks convince you that it is difficult to use.

We have had the X-T1 for five days now, long enough to get a good feel for how it handles and what the files look like. My wife has been wearing it out, taking photos and comparing them with the look of our Nikon images. So tonight I asked her if we were going to need two X-T1’s? “Only if you want to shoot with one,” she replied. I guess that rather neatly sums up what she thinks of this new addition to the family.

Sue is not an experienced photographer. By that I mean she did not grow up with a camera in her hand or a dedicated photographer in the family. She took occasional snapshots with a variety of point-and-shoot film camera over the years, but she didn’t become interested in shooting until I became serious about seven years ago. And even then she just began shooting a bit because we were going to some beautiful locations, and she tired of standing around while I was taking photos. We bought her a Canon G9, and then a G11. She got better and began sitting in when we attended His Light workshops with Bill Fortney and Jim Begley. Her first DLSR was an entry-level Nikon D5100, and she really began learning the basics of exposure and aperture at that time (only a couple of years ago). So, she doesn’t have a lot of experience in shooting, especially with various types of cameras. And I wondered – was she going to have trouble with the format of the X-T1? In a word … no.

Neither one of us owned film-era SLRs. So when the X-T1 came we weren’t taken with its looks because it reminded us of what we used in the past. Far from it, we are digital camera babies. The camera just looks good on its own, its engineering and design are stand-outs. It catches your eye … and holds it. This camera isn’t selling so well and becoming so popular because of an on-going retro craze or fad. If you like well-designed products of any kind, you will be drawn to the X-T1. It is a looker.

If you are at all intimidated by looking at the dials and buttons on the top of the camera, thinking you aren’t going to know how to use this kind of setup, relax. Sue didn’t grow up shooting camera styled like this. I sure didn’t. And it has been quite easy to get used to and to shoot with. If you read my post from Tuesday you saw our learning curve – me reading the manual and Sue diving in head-first. That first morning she was asking me question after question about how this worked and what that did (she never has read the manual except for a few specific pages). By the afternoon she was shooting shot after shot in all kinds of conditions and comparing them to the results she had been seeing with the D5100. Truthfully, she did it without a lot of help from me – she learned by just grabbing the camera and shooting. It is that easy to get used to the retro-style X-T1. Don’t be scared off if you are not an experienced shooter. If you are interested in the Fuji read the reviews on its performance and if it suits your style of shooting. Don’t make a decision based on a fear of dials or buttons.

The Nikon D5100 is smaller and lighter than the D800 my wife has been used to recently. The Fuji is lighter yet, and a lot smaller (especially when you add in the lens factor). She loves those facts. Her experience has been with larger cameras – you might think the smaller Fuji would require a getting-used-to-it period. Not at all. It felt right to both of us from the very beginning. If you worry that a smaller camera can’t feel right or be easy to handle, relax. My only advice would be to consider the optional battery grip if you have larger hands. To us, the smaller size is a plus – easier to pack and easier to carry.

The X-T1 looks different from your bigger DLSR. And subconsciously you might be thinking it has got to be slower or clunkier or whatever you have in mind when you think back to film cameras. It is a modern, up-to-date, pretty much state-of-the-art digital camera. If you are not very experienced and think you need to be shooting whatever bigger camera your friends shoot because that is what modern DLSRs look like … relax. My dear friend and mentor Bill Fortney is a legendary photographer, a legendary Nikon shooter. And he is shooting (and making gorgeous images) with his Fuji X-series cameras and lenses now. Why? Because he says they give him the best results he ever has gotten. Think of that statement – a legendary photographer, a Nikon Professional Services rep for many years – shooting now with Fuji gear because of the quality he demands. My point is: if you are in the market for a new camera or if you just are interested in the Fuji X-T1, don’t be put off by its size or looks or buttons or dials. Experienced photographer or brand new shooter, this camera is worth a second look.

My wife has fallen in love with the X-T1. She could be a model for any newer photographer who wonders if the X-T1 might be a good fit. Trust me, we have learned that experience has nothing to do with making a decision. What you need to do is get one in your hands to see how it feels. You need to see one and appreciate the layout and design of the controls. You need to read up on the camera’s strengths and weaknesses (no, its not perfect), and see if it matches up well with your style of shooting. If it does, this truly may be what you have been looking for. If it doesn’t, look elsewhere. I am really beginning to appreciate how easy this system is to carry around. I like the fact that many of the lenses (tack-sharp lenses) are many, many dollars cheaper than their Nikon and Canon counter-parts. And the quality of the files is top-notch.

It’s easy to get caught up in the latest fads of any kind. Cameras and photo gear are not exceptions to that rule. So you have to step back and make sound decisions on your purchases, making sure what you buy is right for you and your style of shooting. At this point I’m going to give you what is just my opinion – mirrorless systems are not fads. More and more, Nikon and Canon are going to see clients quietly drift away from them and into the Fuji/Olympus/Sony arena. If you are a new or inexperienced shooter, don’t let the fact that you are scare you away from considering these lighter systems right now. The Fuji X-T1 is a perfect example of what I believe is going to be a lot of the future when it comes to camera sales. Take it from my wife. If you can ………

1 Comment

  1. Well you don’t have to have experience to own any camera (hundreds of Doctors and lawyers that owned hasselblads proved that). But experience will help with any camera. Even a point and shoot. But you can’t get experience with owning something. Let me know when “your” XT1 arrives:)

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